If you have a cat, then you have had the wonderful privilege of waking up to your cat hacking up a fur ball or even better yet have had the pleasure of stepping on it or finding it hanging out on your bed.
Cats vomiting is a common occurrence for many pet owners and can have various causes including fur balls, gastrointestinal upset, and endoparasites.
While cat’s probably think nothing of vomiting up a furry hair baby, most cat owners think it’s gross, not at all a pretty sight, and wonder if it’s necessary.
There are also many more possible reasons why cats may vomit and in this blog post, we will explore some of those reasons and shed some light on this mysterious subject!
What is vomiting? Vomiting vs Regurgitation
Before we dive into the many reasons why cats vomit, it’s important to understand the difference between vomiting and regurgitation.
Vomiting is an active process where the cat’s stomach muscles contract and push the contents of the stomach up and out through the mouth.
Regurgitation, on the other hand, is a passive process where food is simply brought up from the esophagus and expelled with little or no effort.
10 Reasons Cats Vomit
Let’s start with the obvious and most common reason that cat’s vomit, hairballs.
Cats are constantly grooming themselves, and as they do so, they ingest a lot of their own hair. This can form into a hairball in their stomach, which can eventually lead to vomiting.
Treatment & Prevention:The best way to prevent hairballs is to brush your cat regularly (preferably daily), this will help remove loose hair before they have a chance to ingest it.
There are also many supplements and diets for cats that decrease the number of times they vomit fur balls
Gastroenteritis is a catch-all term for inflammation of the stomach and intestines.
There are many possible causes of gastroenteritis, including viruses, bacteria, parasites, and even certain foods.
When a cat has gastroenteritis, they will often vomit as their body tries to rid itself of the offending agent. In some cases, they may also have diarrhea
Treatment & Prevention: The best way to treat gastroenteritis is to see your veterinarian and have them determine the cause. They may prescribe antibiotics or other medication to help clear up the infection.
3. Dietary Indiscretion
This one is pretty self-explanatory.
If a cat eats something that doesn’t agree with them, they will often vomit it back up.
This is most common in kittens and young cats, as they are still exploring their world and haven’t learned what is safe to eat yet. They are just little innocent creatures, after all!
Treatment & Prevention: Ensure that your cat stays out of the garbage or other food that can upset their stomachs, your vet may also ask you to start your cat on a bland diet.
4. Ingestion of Foreign Objects
Cats are curious creatures, and they like to explore their environment with their mouths. From my personal experience, my cat loves to chew on the most random of things including paper, plastic bags, and anything string.
It’s like she is trying to give herself a blockage.
This can often lead to them ingesting something that they shouldn’t, such as string, plastic, or other small objects.
These objects can get stuck in the stomach or intestines and cause vomiting.
Treatment & Prevention: If you think your cat has ingested a foreign object, it is important to see your veterinarian right away as they may need surgery to remove the object.
5. Motion Sickness
Yes, cats can get motion sickness just like humans! If a cat is in a car or on a boat that is moving around a lot, they may start to feel nauseous and vomit.
Treatment & Prevention: best way to prevent motion sickness in cats is to keep them in a carrier while traveling and make sure the carrier is secured so it doesn’t move around too much.
Another common cause of vomiting in cats is parasites. Intestinal parasites, such as roundworms and hookworms, can cause a cat to vomit as their body tries to get rid of the offending creatures.
Parasites can be very dangerous to cats so it’s important to treat them as soon as possible.
Treatment & Prevention: Depending on the type of parasite it is usually as simple as giving your cat dewormer.
Vomiting can be a symptom of a more serious illness, such as liver disease, kidney disease, or cancer. If your cat is vomiting frequently or if they are also showing other signs of illness they may need veterinary intervention.
Treatment & Prevention: it’s important to run tests and determine if there is an underlying medical condition that is causing the vomiting.
Just like in humans, a cat can vomit due to a stomach or intestinal infection. This is usually caused by bacteria or viruses, and it can often lead to gastroenteritis.
Treatment & Prevention: If the infection is due to bacteria, antibiotics are usually the best way to treat an infection, but it’s always best to let your veterinarian make that determination. If your cat has a virus they may have to spend some time at the veterinary hospital, it all depends on the severity of the infection.
9. Food Allergies
While not as common as some of the other reasons on this list, food allergies can still cause cats to vomit. If your cat is vomiting and you think it may be due to a food allergy, talk to your veterinarian.
Treatment & Prevention: Many times vets recommend switching to a hypoallergenic diet or another type of food that is less likely to trigger an allergic reaction.
10. Neurological Issues
In some rare cases, vomiting can be caused by a neurological issue.
This could be anything from a brain tumor to hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain). If your cat is vomiting and showing signs of neurological issues like staring off into space, falling over, nystagmus (the eyes are moving side to side rapidly) you should see a vet as soon as possible.
Treatment & Prevention: Take your cat to the vet for further testing, your regular vet may refer you to a neurologist
What else can you do if your cat is vomiting?
- If your cat is vomiting and it is not due to hairballs there may be something more serious going on like a foreign body that needs veterinary intervention
- If the vomiting is due to a dietary indiscretion or food allergy, remove the offending food and make sure all garbage cans are secure if your cat gets into them often
- Vomiting due to hairballs is fairly common in cats, especially long-hair cats. While this is just a normal part of cat’s lives, there are several products and diets on the market that can help if your cat is having excessive fur balls.
- Start your cat on a bland diet if your vet deems it necessary. To read about what you should feed your cat while on a bland diet, here is our mini-guide.
As you can see, there are many reasons why cats vomit. Unless you are a medical professional yourself, it’s best to leave the diagnosis up to your veterinarian.
They will be able to determine the cause of the vomiting and prescribe the appropriate treatment. In most cases, vomiting is not a serious medical condition, but it can be a symptom of something more serious.